Biodiversity Activist #319

October 3, 2002



4,500 ACRES PROTECTED FOR HAWAIIAN SNAIL

In keeping with a court order won by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service designated 4,479 acres of critical habitat along 12.3 stream miles for Newcomb's snail on 8-20-02. Six to seven thousand Newcomb's snails inhabit six fast-flowing streams and associated springs, seeps and vertical-to-overhanging waterfalls on the island of Kauai.

Hawaiian river systems have been degraded and destroyed by plantation irrigation systems which divert hundreds of millions of gallons of water per day, often leaving streams entirely dry. Hydropower dams divert over ninety million gallons a day.

The case was argued by David Henkin and Kapua Sproat of the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund (Honolulu).


SIERRA NEVADA LOGGING CHALLENGED

On 9-30-02, the Center for Biological Diversity and Earth Island Institute filed suit to stop a 1,700 acre salvage timber sale on the Eldorado National Forest. Ignoring scientific research published in peer-reviewed journal by Center biologist Monica Bond, the Forest Service dropped logging restrictions in two California spotted owl habitat areas, claiming that a forest fire had rendered the areas unsuitable to owls. Bond studied owls on the Eldorado National Forest for three years before publishing a scientific article entitled "Short-term effects of fire on spotted owl survival, site fidelity, mate fidelity and reproductive success" which demonstrated that spotted owls continue to use burned forests.

The suit calls for consistent application of Forest Service wildlife protection guidelines protecting trees over 20" in diameter and challenges the agency's exaggerated claims of tree mortality from fire.

The case is being argued by Rachel Fazio of the John Muir Project.

For more information on the CA spotted owl, click here...


LAWSUIT TO PROTECT KOOTENAI RIVER WHITE STURGEON

The Center for Biological Diversity, Ecology Center and Idaho Conservation League formally notified the Army Corps of Engineers of their intent to sue the agency for failing to protect the endangered Kootenai River white sturgeon. The sturgeon has not successfully spawned since Libby Dam became operational in 1974 because of a lack of large spring flows and gravel riverbed, both of which are essential to the sturgeon's reproduction. Fewer than 500 mature females remain in the aging population, necessitating immediate changes in management of the dam.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued an opinion in December of 2000 ordering Army Corps to implement a water management plan called VAR-Q by January 1, 2002. The plan, which was developed by the Army Corps and is supported by the state of Montana, stores water to create spring flows that will hopefully allow the sturgeon to spawn. To date, the Army Corps has not implemented VAR-Q or taken other steps called for by the Fish and Wildlife Service to save the sturgeon. If no action is taken within 60-days, the groups will sue the agency for causing the extinction of the sturgeon.

For more information, click here...


EPA STOPS FINING POLLUTERS UNDER BUSH ADMINISTRATION

A study by U.S. Representative Edward Markey found that EPA enforcement of environmental laws has dropped off dramatically under the Bush administration. The agency's own data shows that penalties for enforcement actions fell 80% in the first 14 months of the Bush presidency, as compared to the same period of time in the Clinton administration.

Costs to polluters declined from 845.1 million to 165.1 million from EPA actions, and settlements decreased 63%, from 234,000 to 87,000. Neglect of environmental regulations and oversight leads to incentives for industries to pollute and harms the businesses that comply when others avoid the costs incurred with pollution control. Lax pollution enforcement dirties the air, fouls the water, and causes health hazards to the families who live near polluting industries.

Representative Markey has called on Christie Whitman, head of the EPA, to return to the stricter enforcement levels of the Clinton administration, concluding that under Bush, it pays to pollute.


BROCK EVANS: ENVIRONMENTAL LEADER BATTLING CANCER NEEDS YOUR HELP

Nature has no more ardent champion than Brock Evans. In battle after battle, he has freely contributed his energy, creativity, and passion to protect our natural heritage. Brock is now in his toughest battle. He has contracted multiple myeloma -- bone cancer -- and it has spread to some soft tissue as well. The odds are tough.

Lance Armstrong faced similar odds, and came back spectacularly. In his book, It's Not About the Bike, Armstrong writes, "I don't know why I'm alive. I can only guess. I have a tough constitution, and my profession taught me how to compete against long odds and big obstacles." If there is anyone with a tough constitution, anyone whose profession has taught him how to succeed against long odds and big obstacles, it is Brock Evans.

In this fight, however, Brock absolutely needs a form of ammunition that he has often done without over the years: money. His medical bills could exceed $400,000. Medicare will likely pick up some, but the remaining gap will be wide. A dedicated attorney is trying to get an insurance company to pick up some more -- but that is a slow, uncertain struggle. And even if successful, a big gap will remain. Brock can't wait. If he is to win this one, he needs to continue his chemotherapy and subsequent stem cell transplants in the next few weeks and months.

One consequence of Brock having chosen to devote his life to the public interest is that he does not have large savings to draw upon in this difficult time. Brock is currently executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition (ESC), and has purposely kept his salary low so that all available funds could go directly into program. But, now, he obviously does not want to go into an expensive medical treatment that will leave his loving wife Linda entering her golden years impoverished. Brock is a true hero. As a movement, we need to cherish and take care of our heroes.

In appreciation of Brock's extraordinary value and contributions to the ESC and the entire environmental community, the ESC Board has decided to give Brock a raise and has also established "The Leadership Fund" to help maintain the high level of leadership and productivity from its talented and irreplaceable executive director. Thanks to YOU, Brock will finally get the raise he deserves, and the ESC can maintain its high level of productivity from all its staff. At this point in history, we need strong leadership from the ESC to prevent species extinctions and protect valuable healthy habitat. Contributions to "The Leadership Fund" are fully tax-deductible. Pitch in now! Please send your contributions to either:

The "Endangered Species Coalition Leadership Fund" at: 1101 14th Street, 14th Floor, NW, Washington, D.C. 20005; or via the internet at: www.stopextinction.org.

Then, please forward this letter to everyone you know who knows Brock. Better yet, re-write it yourself and post your version to every Listserv you can access. Don't postpone this one until tomorrow. Time is short.


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